Web design has come a long way since the under construction GIFs and marquee scrolling of the GeoCities days. Back then, we could not have imagined what the biggest design trends would be in 2015.
Top Four Design Trends
In all the sites I analyzed, there were four particular features that were prominent and that most or all of the sites had in common: A responsive layout, a list-style blog, CSS3 animations and bright colors.
With mobile browsing steadily becoming more prevalent, it’s no wonder the top design feature is responsiveness.
These stats make sense when you consider 62% of companies that created responsive sites increased their sales, according to Econsultancy. That was back in 2013, but the stats have not changed – in fact, they have grown.
According to We are Social’s report called Digital, Social and Mobile in 2015, 51% of the world’s population uses mobile phones and 31% of the internet’s usage comes from smartphones.
In February, Google announced it would provide a boost to search engine rankings for responsive sites. In the company’s FAQ, there’s further explanation that sites designed for only large screens may see a significant decrease in their search rankings.
Each of the sites I analyzed weren’t simply functionally responsive, they had a specific layout designed for optimal viewing on mobile devices – visitors would not miss out on any content while using their smartphones or tablets.
Trends Coming in Fast and Furious
There are several trends that are also becoming more and more prominent, including full-width page sections, sticky navigation, one-page themes and well-placed parallax scrolling.
Full-width page sections and sticky navigation’s are quickly becoming a must in relevant site design.
A sticky navigation bar is one that is visible even when a user scrolls through the page and, quite frankly, it just makes sense.
Why make your users work to get to the top of your site to click through to a different page? The easier your site is to use, the better your bounce and conversion rates will be.
It also helps if your site looks eye-catching and full-width page sections help with that. Taking a look at how Asana’s website has been design and you’ll see striking page sections in action:
What was also interesting to see was that many sites and themes either exclusively displayed blog posts in a grid or masonry-style or had them as additional options. In fact, 42.5% of the sampled sites had a grid-style blog, while 15.5% had their posts displayed masonry-style.
Many people dismiss these options, which is clear when you consider 66.5% of sites either exclusively had a list-style blog or had this feature as an option, but different blog styles are on the rise.
It might be surprising to you that 0.5% included music and had a video slider that played automatically. I, for one, was shocked since I thought this was something that died out in the 1990s. It can be alarming to visit a site that has music playing, especially if you have the volume turned right up on your device, which was, unfortunately, the case for me.
If this is any indication of the collective experience of humanity, it might be a good idea to leave any automatic sound out of your site design.
Homepage Featured Images are the New Black
Image and video sliders have been a big trend over the past few years, but they are beginning to be replaced by full-width or full page featured images.
Although sliders can be a highly effective way to help drive an emotional connection with your business, you can still achieve this with well-thought out images.
It’s also worth mentioning that automatically scrolling sliders are not accessible to the visually impaired. For this reason alone, it’s easy to see why many designers are beginning to ditch sliders and opt for beautiful and colorful featured images for the homepage.
You can see how effective a single image can still be on most sites, including ours:
The Bottom Line
So what have we learned from these design trend statistics?
- Your site should be responsive – It’s no longer good enough for your site to just be view-able on the go. The mobile version of your site should have similar capabilities and visuals as the desktop version.
- Bright colors can help make your business more memorable – While an excess of neon colors may not be all that inviting, bright colors are a trend you shouldn’t miss.
- Full-width or full-page featured images are a must – At least on your homepage. It’s time to start ditching those sliders.
- Full-width page sections are elegant and effective – Nothing displays information quite so cleanly and beautifully.
- CSS3 Animations can help bring your site to life – Placed above clickable thumbnails or buttons, animations can help your site form an emotional connection with your visitors.
- One-page themes are nothing to sneeze at – They’re gaining popularity and it’s easy to see why when you consider how amazing they look. They also help make your site more interactive and easy to navigate.
- Sticky navigation menus are here to stay – They just make sense. Why make your users work hard to use your site? Making it easy for them to navigate your site just makes sense.
By now, you may be thinking, “That’s great, but can I add these all-important elements to my Website?”